What Influenced Modernism

What is Modernism

Before analysing what influenced modernism, let us see what modernism is. Modernism is an artistic movement that aimed to depart significantly from classical and traditional forms, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Modernism had a major impact on a variety of subjects and fields such as art, music, literature, and architecture. It is generally considered a way of thinking or a worldview than a movement or a style. Modernism is a radical approach that aims to give a new lease of life to the Western perspective on life, art, politics, and science.

Characteristics of Modernism

  • Departure from the classical and traditional forms of art
  • Rejection of all religious and moral principles as the only means of social progress
  • Focus on inner self and consciousness
  • Rejection of the ideology of realism.
What Influenced Modernism

“View from the Dunes with Beach and Piers – Piet Mondrian” 

What Influenced Modernism

Technological innovations and the impact of the First World War are two main elements that influenced modernism. By the advent of the twentieth century, the western society has been transformed by all the new discoveries, inventions and technological innovations such as the automobile, radio, incandescent light bulb, aeroplane and X-rays. These innovations also challenged the traditional notions of time and space, which made people question their way of life. The horrors of the First World War was also instrumental in changing people’s perspectives about reality and life. It was argued that if the nature of reality or life itself was in question, the art too would have to make a radical change and break away from the conventional, accepted forms.

Works of some prominent theoreticians and philosophers also influenced this modernist movement. Some of these figures include Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Henry Bergson and Friedrich Nietzsche.

One of the main differences between modernism and the movements that preceded is modernism’s rejection of ornamentation. This quality was influenced by the arts and crafts movement, which used simple forms and styles. 

Thus, it can be said that the impact of technological innovations, the First World War, psychological and philosophical theories of the time, and styles like arts and crafts movement influenced modernism movement. 

Image Courtesy: 

“Piet Mondrian, 1909, View from the Dunes with Beach and Piers, Domburg, MoMA” by By Piet Mondrian –  (Public Domain) via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.


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